"Hear! Hear!" cried the Honorable Members last week, as Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Gaitskell rose in the House of Commons to open the budget for 1951-52. At £4.2 billion ($11.8 billion), it was the biggest budget in Britain's peacetime history. From the dark red dispatch box that was once William Gladstone's, Gaitskell drew the closely guarded pages of his speech. He spoke crisply for 2¼ hours, refreshed himself with occasional sips of rum-spiked orange juice. M.P.s listened intently; throughout the country, people waited anxiously.

The gist of the Chancellor's message: higher taxes and continued austerity are necessary, to pay for...

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